Visual Art Review: The Personal is Political

Visual Art Review: the annual postcard show at South Puget Sound Community College

ART REVIEW by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

You’ll find the good, the bad and the you-gotta-be-kidding-me at the annual postcard exhibition at South Puget Sound Community College. There are professional artists in the show, including many of Olympia’s best, and there are many rank amateurs. Well over half of the works are crudely executed and either corny or trite. But that’s all right. It’s worth the effort of wading through all the bad art to find the gems. And there are gems aplenty.

All entries were postcard sized, and there was no limit to media. There are drawings and paintings, photography and sculpture. Wall labels do not include titles or media, but only the artist’s name and a number. Every year there is a theme. This year’s theme is The Personal is Political. As might be expected, that theme brought forth a lot of art that pokes fun at the President of the United States. Here are some of the gems to be found:

A picture of a toilet by Nathan Barnes done in black and white in a drawing style similar to that of Keith Haring. The toilet bowl is filled with beautiful, sparkling jewels (not real jewels, of course). The interpretation is left up to the viewer, but given the theme of the show and the current political climate, I see it as a metaphor for all that is good about America being flushed down the toilet.

Joe Batt’s picture of a haunted looking woman in front of an American flag. It is painted on paper, and the woman’s face is cut out and attached about half an inch in front of the flag. Visually, this might be the most striking image in the show — this one and a similar one from Batt picturing a snarling dog.

Laurel Beausoleil’s sculpture is a boat made of a sardine can. In the boat are 20 tiny rowers made of what looks like clay painted in bright colors. In the front of the boat is a “sail,” which is a picture of the shark from Jaws. These rowers (captives? slaves? Voters?) are rowing into the jaws of certain death. As with Barnes’s painting, the interpretation is left up to the viewer, but it is clearly not a hopeful message.

Lucy Gentry has two entries comprised of the decomposed bodies of dead birds encased in what appears to be white flocking or white wool, and a similar piece with white feathers and what looks like salt crystals. These pieces are simultaneously creepy and beautiful.

Althea Indigo Mahira offers a small white dartboard with Trump’s face on it riddled with half a dozen red and blue darts. No interpretation needed.

Becky Smurr offers a beautifully drawn torso of a female nude with the circle-and-bar symbol for “no” covering her genital area and the printed words, “No touching, grabbing, clutching, handling … without express permission of owner or representative.”

From Carol Hannum there are three nicely drawn political cartoons, one with a takeoff on the quote on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your lobbyists, your in-crowd, your monied classes, yearning to eat brea.”

Visitors are invited to bid on works in a silent auction with proceeds to benefit the gallery.

(This review appears courtesy The Weekly Volcano.)

WHAT  Fine Art Postcard Exhibition

WHEN Noon to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, through Feb. 2

WHERE South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia



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